Iltija Mufti hit out at the Centre for its “cruel” detention of her mother, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, and for stripping the region of its autonomy, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
In an interview to the newspaper, Iltija Mufti recalled how the police came with a warrant for her mother on August 5 last year, after the government had announced its decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and split it into two union territories. “A group of policemen came with this really sketchy warrant,” she said. “It said we anticipate there’s going to be a breach of peace and law and order if we don’t arrest you [Mehbooba Mufti].”
“My mum took a small suitcase with three pairs of clothes and some essentials and I thought they would take her away for a day, then two, three, four days, and every day I thought she’s going to come home today,” lltija Mufti added. “But no, she’s not coming home, you are not hearing from them.”
Iltija Mufti said her mother displayed strength even amid difficult circumstances. “Luckily my mother has inner strength, but the whole point of putting her in isolation like that was very sinister, it was very cruel, it was to break her,” she said.
In May, the government had extended Mehbooba Mufti’s detention under the Public Safety Act by three more months. Mehbooba Mufti and several other Kashmiri politicians were charged under the stringent act. Former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, who had also been detained, were released in March.
Iltija Mufti also lashed out the Centre for the new domicile rules and internet restrictions imposed in the region. “This place is an open air prison,” she said. “I have never seen so many security forces here before this.”
“There are no political representatives,” she continued. “And all the ‘babus’ working here are non-Kashmiris, so they don’t care. What have they done in the last one year? You are literally pushing people. You have brought in new domicile rules. They are not even giving us back our 3G. Was there no militancy in the 90s, did 3G exist at the peak of militancy? Nothing works on 2G here. Kids haven’t had an academic year here…Tourists are allowed but locals can’t go out. Are we animals in a circus that outsiders will come and see us in our cage?”
Mufti alleged that the Centre’s new domicile rules were meant to take away the identity of the Kashmiris. “The entire purpose of this new experiment is to take everything that belongs to us and change the demography of the state,” she said. “They’ve already issued the domicile certificate to 15,000 to 20,000 people – in the midst of a pandemic. The Army has occupied huge parts of Kashmir, now they have permission to build anywhere. They want to obliterate our sense of identity, and it’s pretty obvious.
Last week, the Jammu and Kashmir administration withdrew a 1971 circular that made it mandatory for the Indian Army, the Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force to obtain a “no objection certificate” to acquire land in the region.